Directed by David Leitch (THE ATOMIC BLONDE director, YES!)
Written by A Trio of middle-aged white dudes
Starring: The Rock, Crank, Idris Elba and Vanessa Kirby
Runtime: 2 hours 15 minutes (I know!)
by Rosalie Kicks, Old Sport
“What’s your skin regimen? You look like Shirley Temple.” -Ryan HEARTTHROB Reynolds
I have seen one and half of Fast and The Furious flicks.
Makes ya kinda wonder why I am writing this review, huh? Welllll…the press screening was in King of Prussia (KOP), which is basically like saying I trekked to East Bolivia. In order to travel to KOP one has to utilize the dreaded 76 westbound strip. Despite the KOP theater only being about twenty miles from Philadelphia, it has at times, taken upwards of two hours to travel there due to the miserable highway. Several MJ contribs lacked interest in experiencing this hellacious journey for this particular flick. Therefore, I was tasked with bringing you (aka grabbed the shortest straw), our dear readers the scoop on director David Leitch’s (Atomic Blonde, Deadpool 2) latest raucous undertaking.
If I had to sum up this film with one word it would be SUPER. Now, hold onto your shirts - I am not talking about the quality of the movie. I am speaking about the overall plot devices used within this ridiculously, immediately forgettable SUPERfluous action romp. Everything viewed on screen seems to have this SUPER aspect to it. There is a SUPER scary virus that makes your insides melt, and a SUPER bad guy robot (Idris Elba), a SUPER duper team up of the baddest trackers (Rock and Statham) on earth, SUPER cameos (Reynolds!), a SUPER hot Helen Mirren (I need her face cream!) and this SUPER spy/kick ass lady, Hattie (Vanessa Kirby). Everything was amped up to the extreme- including the deafening score and soundtrack. Unfortunately, as I awaited the needless end credits scene, I found that the movie seemed to have exited my mind as soon as it touched by eyeballs. The only lasting impression it made, was that it tried way too hard.
It was helpful that my film pal from Cinema76, Dan Scully gave me a primer of the entire series en route to the theater. I requested his assistance, as I felt otherwise I would be extremely lost. Surprisingly, none of this seemed extraordinarily useful in understanding this particular story, being that it is a true stand alone. Regardless, everyone can now rest soundly, as I now know the meaning of Fast Fambly and now too request justice for Han. The thing is, after watching Hobbs & Shaw I am yet to be convinced that I am missing out. This series just isn’t my cup of tea and I find no urge to ever become a connoisseur of the Fast series. I am confident in saying that I will never hang out with this movie or any of the Fast films ever again.
Granted, I knew what I was in for. I am familiar with the type of series this is and I am pretty versed in the filmography of Statham and The Rock. Trust me, I know CRANK. I also know David Leitch, not personally, but am aware of his style. While viewing Hobbs & Shaw, it seems apparent when the director was in control of this movie and inevitably when it got away from him. Trademark Leitch techniques such as, highly choreographed action sequences, neon lights and slick camera operation were all on display during the first forty some odd minutes of the flick. This also signifies the time that I was most onboard with the movie and eerily (embarrassingly) found myself appreciating the personality that is Jason Statham in a turtleneck.
Leitch’s strengths as an action director were most noticeable with the character Hattie, played by Vanessa Kirby. Guys, she is someone to watch. I loved her in Mission Impossible: Fallout and after seeing her in Hobbs & Shaw, want her to find a way into the Atomic Blonde series. Her movements were extremely reminiscent of Charlize Theron, which makes total sense based on the director. Regrettably, I can’t say the same for The Rock or Statham. They were by no means phoning it in, but the scenes they were involved in, were meh at best. After watching a series like John Wick maybe I am just getting too accustomed to elaborate action sequences like this and have an expectation that they will always be able to top itself.
The chemistry between The Rock and Statham got overplayed quickly. The director introduces the characters through a split screen. Seeing this had me excited for what was to come, as I am a sucker for this sort thing. I loved the way it was setting up the contrast in personalities between the two characters. Hobbs has raw eggs and coffee for breakfast, Shaw fries ‘em and has beer. I thought we would witness an opposite attracts type scenario- like an Abbott and Costello screwball comedy type scenario. The movie spent a lot of time reminding me how much the two hated one another, which led to jokes that fell flat and a lot of eyerolls.
And as most films seem to go these days, this story suffers from an entirely long ass run time due to a script that inescapably languishes. Throughout the two hour plus runtime, we flit all over the world with these knuckleheads from the US to England to Moscow to Samoa! I respect The Rock inserting his family heritage into the narrative by taking the story to Samoa, but this entire scene played out dreadfully. It is in this particular scene in which I feel Leitch lost control and speculate that Edward D. Wood Jr. was summoned from the grave. This theory is based on a scene that starts completely at nightfall, seconds later, we cut and now The Rock is fighting in daylight. I guess they thought no one would notice.
Stepping back and really thinking about it, all of this is expected. Two trackers, Hobbs and Shaw, hunting down a lady carrying a melting organs virus - a lady that just so happens to be Shaw’s sister and just so happens to be 21 years younger (!) - who all find themselves on the run from a guy that has been made into a robot. Filled with montages and explosions and an anti-robot message (?)… obviously nothing about this is believable/imaginable, except for maybe the hating on robots thing - you ain’t ever getting an Alexa in my house. Honestly, it is absurd of me to expect a movie of this sort to be remotely coherent. This was sold to audiences as ridiculous and this is exactly what it delivers. Which is to be expected.
There is one thing though that I never anticipated and that would be later finding myself perusing Statham’s filmography on IMDb and thinking back fondly of him in a turtleneck. I blame the accent.